ATC orders inquiry into illegal construction of mosque in Karachi

Updated 10 Jul 2020


ATC also came down hard on SBCA for allowing construction on government land and sought names of the officers concerned. — Tanveer Shahzad/File
ATC also came down hard on SBCA for allowing construction on government land and sought names of the officers concerned. — Tanveer Shahzad/File

KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Thursday directed the director general of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) to hold an inquiry into illegal construction of a mosque and madressah in Surjani Town on a plot meant for a park.

The ATC-XII judge also expressed resentment on the deputy commissioner (West) for not checking the legal status of the mosque/madressah before taking it over in government custody and directed him to appear before the court along with a report on July 13.

The ATC also came down hard on the SBCA for allowing construction on government land and sought the names of the officers concerned who were posted in the area at that time from the SBCA DG and also asked him to file a report whether any action was taken when the plot in question was encroached upon.

The court was hearing a case registered against two suspects, affiliated with the madressah, for allegedly collecting funds and donations for a banned militant outfit.

The Counter Terrorism Department said in the charge sheet that the mosque and madressah were built on an amenity plot meant for a park in Maymarabad, Surjani Town.

The court questioned how the mosque/madressah was built without permission of the SBCA and all other utilities were provided to the illegally built madressah, adding that the government also appointed an administrator on such property and also paid salaries to the staff deputed at such mosque/madressah.

At the outset of the hearing, administrator for the madressah Musharraf Ali placed some documents on record which showed that the provincial government had taken over the madressah in pursuance of different notifications.

The court observed that before taking over the property in question, its legal status was not checked by the deputy commissioner concerned which was a great failure on his part since the same was constructed on land which was still the property of the Karachi Development Authority and not yet demarcated/allotted.

“Such process of deputy commissioner not only regularizes such illegal construction, but also financially burdened the exchequer”, the court added.

While assisting the court, an assistant prosecutor general informed the ATC that according to Section 21 of the Societies Registration Act 1860, a mosque was to be registered and the procedure of registration of madressah was also available in Section 25 of the act.

He further submitted that according to the act, no utility connection would be provided without registration and said that by violating the law, all departments of public utilities, including SBCA, failed to discharge their official duties.

The CTD had booked Bashir, Mohammad Bin Shahzad and Rehan Ahmed under Section 11-N of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and contended that they were looking after the affairs of the mosque and madressah and collecting funds for the banned Jaish-i-Mohammad.

Although the CTD failed to arrest any of the suspects, they charge-sheeted Shahzad and Rehan under Section 512 of the criminal procedure code by claiming that they had collected sufficient evidence against both the suspects in their absence.

However, the CTD said that information about Bashir, including his residential address, could not be found.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2020